Saturday, March 15, 2014

My thoughts on this past week surrounding 'Consent'.

It was a pretty crazy week for me in regards to a certain topic, that being consent. Things happened to friends and communities I am a part of that revolved around this word. Some of it had to do with what most people would think of off the bat, and that would be sexual consent. However, the other things harped on a version of consent themselves. All of this has been on my mind and I felt the best way to deal with it would be to share it.

Wednesday morning, I found out that a girl that went to high school with me was found murdered down in Florida by what looks like her boyfriend, by blunt forced trauma to the head. I did not know her very well, but we were Facebook friends and would comment on one another's statuses from time to time, like photos, etc. She was a mother of three and, from talking to friends who knew her better, was trying to better her life.

I don't know if we will ever know exactly why my friend's boyfriend killed her. I guess it really does not matter... I doubt she gave consent to being killed. Unlike those crime dramas that find out that the victim actually wanted to die, I have a feeling you will find that there was an argument, possibly because she didn't want to do something for him, and the result was her death. Now her children are left with no mother. It is horrific to ever hear of senseless deaths like this, but when it hits close to home, it's just that much worse.

Rest in Peace, Christina.

Then on Wednesday evening, word came down the pike on Tumblr that a couple of popular YouTube artists of a rapidly growing community called Nerdfighters have been involved with issues of sexual abuse and rape. In the one case especially, where the popular of-age YouTube artist had a sexual relationship with an underage fan a few years back, other fans of this person were actually defending the person. I don't know about you, but wrong is wrong. Whether or not this girl "wanted it" at the time, she was underage by the definition of the law. On top of that, the artist was using his stardom and popularity in the eyes of his teenage fans to manipulate things into a sexual relationship. Wrong... period.

There has always been this "walls down" approach to what I like to call 'grassroots fandoms' like Nerdfighteria... where the artists, singers, authors, etc. are approachable and engaging with their fans. Unlike big time actors or singers, these people are popular in their own right because of their devoted fans. It's those fans that these artists craft their work for. They form a bond, a connection, with their fans, so that their fans, in some cases, start feeling like they are friends or, for a few, more than friends. The line has to be drawn to where the artist doesn't act upon this misconception and uses it to forge something that turns out to be manipulative and one-sided. Perhaps the answer lies into creating a barrier between the artist and the fan. I really do not have a perfect answer for this. However, this needs to, and probably will, change.

Since Wednesday, Hank Green, who formed Nerfighteria with his brother John, has been very vocal on the subject of sexual consent. I applaud him and everyone else involved with the new initiatives being taken by the group to educate and combat sexual abuse and rape. Below you will find a video directly from Hank (as part of the Vlogbrothers series), and one from Sexplanations, which is a site Hank, and a bunch of other Nerdfighters, are involved with, and that talks about consent.

Best thing to come from those videos: The absence of a 'no' is not the presence of a 'yes'.

Finally, on Thursday I had to ban a member from one of the Facebook groups I am an admin for. Why? Because he was making another member feel uncomfortable. The two only talked briefly a couple of times through private messaging in regards to a toy, as the group is for toy collectors. That's it... a couple of times about a toy. Yet, he would post things on the wall of this Facebook group directed towards her, like the condition of her health or why she was a fan of the Ravens football team. This made her uncomfortable and feeling awkward because 1. They never talked about stuff like that, so he could only have found out if he went to her personal page, 2. The posts had no relation to the collecting of said toys, but rather her personally, and 3. The last post came more than a week after they last talked. He could have easily messaged her in private asking these questions or stating his remarks, but he chose to display them in a public forum. After talking to her and finding out her fear that it would just continue to escalate and get worse, the guy was banned. 

In this case, the girl, who is also a friend of mine, also blocked the guy from being able to contact her again in the future, or see her profile. She was/is legitimately concerned that, if not stopped, it would continue to get worse. A "no" was put down. She did not give consent to him giving off the vibe of being a "cyber-stalker", and it worried her how obsessed it was seemingly getting. Whether or not that was his real intention, I don't know. However, it was addressed and I hope that's the end of it.

So yea, this week has been a bit intense with all of what happened, all centered around 'consent'. Hopefully this upcoming week will contain less of that, and more fun things like... corned beef! I mean, it is St. Patrick's Day after all.

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